New Senator and Minister to be Appointed

Tonight brings the news that the newly appointed Senator and Minister for Community & Sports, Mr. Commissiong has left the position. It was noted previously that his appointment was controversial, and the dismay over his appointment was showing no sign of abating.

Others are – and will – comment more specifically concerning him elsewhere; my focus here is on what this means for the Cabinet and the Senate. I am interested in the aspects of the role ‘the people’ and social movements will play in our democracy, being as they led the charge on this issue. With a decimated Opposition OBA and a dominant Governing PLP, one imagines social movements and labour unions will play an important role over the next few years.

First however, in Mr. Commissiong’s resignation letter, he cites Section 106 of the Constitution. For those unfamiliar with the Constitution, this sections reads as follows:

106 Resignations
1. Save as otherwise provided in sections 31(1) and 32(2) of this Constitution, any person who is appointed to or to act in any office established by this Constitution may resign from that office by writing under his hand addressed to the person by whom he was appointed.

2. The resignation of any person from any such office (including any seat in either House) by writing under his hand addressed in accordance with this Constitution to any other person shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by that other person.

The Constitution also specifies that at least one of the Cabinet Ministers (and not more than two) must come from the Senate; and that the Government must appoint five senators. Mr. Commissiong’s removal thus means that (i) a new Senator must be appointed by the Premier; and (ii) a new Minister must be appointed from the Senate.

It is important to note that the new Senator to be appointed does not necessarily have to also be the new Minister. This could mean – hypothetically – that due to the particular issues involved in the Commissiong case, that the Premier could reappoint Ms. Lovitta Foggo back to her Ministry, and remove a Ministry from someone else and hand it to one of the Senators. I’ve heard someone on social media suggest just this, with Senator Owen Darrell proposed in the same conversation as a possible Minister for the Cabinet, for example. Of course, any of the other three Senators could also be considered for a Ministry.

It is likely the Premier will be wanting to chose someone who has some previous experience in the House or the Senate. And if that person also has experience as a Minister, all the better. It may be that the Premier only needs an experienced hand in this role for a short period, say six months. That will give the new Senators time to get experience, and allow the Premier to consider if his new Cabinet needs a shuffle or not.

Obvious candidates for the Senate seat would be former MP Michael Scott and former Senator Davida Morris.

As a former Senator, Senate Leader and former Minister, he certainly has the credentials and experience for the role, and, while he did decide to retire, one imagines he might be willing to step into the role, even if for a short period.

Ms. Morris is a former Senator and was a candidate in the last election, as well as being the Secretary General of the PLP. With an eye for addressing criticisms of gender imbalances in politics, she is certainly a possibility.

Of course there are other former PLP MPs, Senators and Ministers that the Premier may consider. Former Premiers Jennifer Smith and Paula Cox, former Ministers Renee Webb and Neletha Butterfield, as well as a host of other former Senators, as well as other members of the PLP Executive, are all possible names to consider.

Ultimately, the above names are pure speculation, albeit with a degree of educated guessing to them.

It is not clear from the Premier’s letter when the new Senator and Minister are to be appointed; however the Premier previously noted that he is convening the first Cabinet meeting of the new Government for this Tuesday, October 13th, so it is quite possible that the appointments will come on Monday afternoon.

Weekly Worker – Week of October 5th, 2020 @BermudaPSU @BUTBermuda @ESTU_BDA @OfficersPrison

Here is a round-up of what’s been happening around the Bermuda unions:

Bermuda Public Services Union

For some reason (I suspect the disruption brought by covid-19) the BPSU has not published it’s quarterly Feedback newsletter since their 2019 Q4 one on December 19th, 2019. Nonetheless, there are some updates on their site worth noting:

  1. When Can I Retire flyer published on October 8th – This flyer provides information for workers about the change of the mandatory retirement age from 65 to 68, and notes who is exempted from this change (basically the uniformed services and teachers).
  2. Extending Employment Beyond Age 68 published on October 8th – This complements the flyer (above) and goes into more detail about the policy change. It provides the background to the change and a short FAQ concerning it.
  3. MOU on Vacation Carryover published on October 9th – This is a copy for workers to be aware of the terms of the MOU agreed between the union concerning a special agreement to carryover vacation days from 2020 into 2021. Due to the disruptions caused by covid-19 workers have not been able to take their vacation time in full and risked losing their vacation days. Basically, it allows for (i) the 60% leave requirement be suspended through 2020; and (ii) the 20 day carry over limit to be suspended through to end of 2021.
  4. A copy of the Public Service Superannuation Amendment Act 2019 – This is the legal underpinning for the extending of the retirement age noted above.

The only other thing worth noting here is that on Friday, October 2nd, the BPSU held an urgent meeting of its membership at Victoria Park (on account of covid-19 precautions) to discuss ‘Government’s austerity measures’.

While the details of this meeting have not been provided, it is likely (based on the subject matter) that it regards the BPSU considering the MOU agreed with Government back in July to have been rendered void by the decision of the uniformed services to reject similar austerity measures – and as such the BPSU would likely be looking to restart talks with the Government concerning this.

It is perhaps worth noting that the vote to accept the austerity measures in July (which included the premise that the MOU would only come into effect if and when all unions agreed to the terms) was a very close vote, with 54% voting to accept the austerity terms and 46% voting to reject them (as per the numbers given in the RG article cited above).

Bermuda Industrial Union

There does not seem to be any news or updates from the BIU this week. Their last issue of the Worker’s Voice uploaded to their website was in August, and the last event or news posted was for the Annual Labour Day Banquet at the end of August.

One of the big issues that the BIU is dealing with at the moment is the closure of the Fairmont Southampton Princess. This closure has led to about 700 workers being laid off – of which about 400 are Bermudians.

Bermuda Union of Teachers

The BUT celebrated World Teachers Day on Monday, October 5th with a ceremony at City Hall, as well as with a video address to Education International.

The BUT’s members are of course now back in the classroom with the new school year, complete with the stresses of teaching during a pandemic involves. Additionally, the re-elected Government will be launching significant school reforms over the next few years, so the BUT will likely be digesting the challenges ahead.

Electrical Supply Trade Union

The ESTU’s website doesn’t have much on it, and their social media accounts have not been updated recently (their Twitter last in May 2015 and their Facebook page last in November 2018).

Nonetheless, the big news for their members is the sale of BELCO/Ascendant to the Canadian company Algonquin was approved on October 7th. What this means for the ESTU remains to be seen.

Bermuda Entertainment Union

The BEU’s website does not seem to have been updated since 2017, however their Facebook page does seem regularly maintained. In September the BEU was featured in the news concerning their hopes to expand their membership before the end of the year.

I am not seeing anything else from the other unions who seem to be lacking much of an online presence at the moment. I will look to cover more going forward.

So Many Times Betrayed – Part II @BermudaPSU

Girl I believe you
Are you losing your mind thinking
What will it take to make somebody listen to you

I Believe You by Fletcher

Continuing my series exploring the issue of sexual harassment, this post continues the review of the BPSU’s report on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, written by now Minister Jason Hayward.

Gender Lenses

Having provide a definition of sexual harassment and some general types of it, the report has an interesting section on ‘Gender Lenses’. Essentially, this section notes that perception of sexual harassment (and/or its severity) is often influenced by gender.

“Men and women exhibit vastly different views of the propriety of sex in the workplace. In general, men and women differ concerning the appropriateness of sexual conduct in the workplace; behaviour considered offensive by women may be viewed as harmless by men.”

This is important to note, especially in the current context that has spurred this conversation about sexual harassment. As most, if not all, of the women affected by this appointment (either having previously experienced sexual harassment, or potentially subject to such) are civil servants (and thus restricted in having a voice as the matter relates to political appointments), only one side of the story is being given – all from men, and thus potentially subject to the gender lens/filter raised in the report. Additionally, many of the social media discussion on this largely seems to reflect this gender bias (with the addition that several male commentators feel that women are weaponising sexual harassment claims).

Now, the report cites two studies by:

  1. Gregory, Raymond, F. (2004) Unwelcome and unlawful: sexual harassment in the American workplace. New York, Cornell University Press.
  2. Bannerjee, et al (2011) Gender differences in perception of workplace sexual harassment among future professionals (Industrial Psychiatry Journal, 20(1): 21-4).

Both of these are excellent papers and well worth the read for those interested.

Now, the key takeaways from these papers that the report notes are:

  1. In general men and women diverge greatly on what they would consider offensive sexual harassment (in particular being propositoned by the opposite sex).
  2. In general men blame women for sexual harassment, in the form of saying women are responsible for their harassment in the workplace based on their dress or working in a male dominated space, and so on.
  3. That there is a need for awareness training – especially for men – regarding the full definition and scope of sexual harassment.

These findings are not new, nor are they exceptional. As Bhattacharya & Stockdale (2016) note:

  1. “Men’s attitude toward sexually harassing activities continues to be more tolerant than women’s.”
  2. “Women are more likely than men to define social-sexual behaviour or events to be sexually harassing or rate such events to be more severe, threatening, unwelcome, serious, or harmful…”
  3. “…there is abundant evidence that women tend to be more sensitive than men to SH [sexual harassment] perceptions and that individuals endorsing traditional masculine gender role orientations or sexist attitudes tend to be less sensitive to SH perceptions…”

There are, of course, plenty additional academic studies that basically find the same thing. In general, men are less likely to perceive their behaviours as sexually harassing than the women who are generally the subject of the harassing. And furthermore, men are more likely to blame the victim.

Myself, I was struck by the similarity here with perceptions of racism. As far back as 1981 (and no doubt earlier – see McConahay, et al ‘Has Racism Declined in America? It depends on who is asking and what is asked’), it was recongised that Whites (who generally benefitted from slavery, segregation and ongoing structural racism) are less likely to recognise the continuation of racism beyond the overt ‘old-fashioned’ in your face form of racism.

As our studies demonstrated, whites mainly recognise old-fashioned racism as reflecting racism. Any of their opinions, beliefs, or actions that work to the detriment of blacks are not seen as prejudice; and since most white Americans either do not hold old-fashioned racist beliefs or they feel guilty about the ones they do hold, whites tend to think racism is a thing of the past. Hence, whites perceive the continuing efforts and demands of blacks as unjustified, while blacks see whites’ resistance to these efforts as tangible proof of racism and hypocrisy, and the cycle of conflict continues.”

In general, using the US example again, perceptions on racism remain different depending on whether the perceiver is white or black.

There is a clear gender bias or ‘lens’ in perceptions of sexual harassment.

Internalised Sexism

Not covered in the BPSU report, but something which I think is worth at least mentioning here is the matter of internalised sexism. In this, I am referring to women that have internalised sexist attitudes and help enable the perpetuation of such – in this case either dismissing claims of sexual harassment or blaming the victim.

There are, of course, various aspects of internalised sexism, but the one I’m referring to here is these aspects:

“Defending, justifying, and excusing individual acts of misogyny, mistreatment, and/or abuse, either toward oneself or toward other women.”

“Defending, justifying, and supporting societal, institutional, political, and/or cultural bias and oppression against women (internalized oppression). Blaming women for causing their own victimization.”

This has certainly been on display on some social media conversations concerning the Commissiong controversy, as well as the radio. In this, the women involved have helped support and legitimise the oppression of other women. There are even some women with internalised sexism who will actively seek out sexually harassing behaviour from men, and to that degree dismiss the very real trauma of sexual harassment on other victims.

In some situations, this can be particularly problematic should a woman with such internalised sexism holds a key role of a shop steward in a unionised workplace. This may cause women workers to feel they cannot go to their union for assistance. This is not the case – if you as a worker are in such a situation where you feel your shop steward is compromised, you can and should go directly to the union itself, be it to a Division Vice-President or to the Executive Committee of the union itself.

So Many Times Betrayed – Part I (a series on sexual harassment…) @BermudaPSU

Through this world I stumble
So many times betrayed
Trying to find an honest word
To find the truth enslaved

– From ‘Possession’ by Sarah McLachlan.

The appointment, yesterday, of former MP Rolfe Commissiong to the Senate as the Government Senate Leader as well as the Minister-in-the-Senate as Minister of Community & Sport, has proved to be quite a controversial appointment. Indeed, some might say that the honeymoon period for the re-elected 30-6 Government is over in a remarkably short time.

The reason for this controversy stems to the nature of Senator Commissiong’s decision to not contest the 2020 election, giving way to Finance Minister Curtis Dickinson to run in the constituency so vacated. That decision arose due to the media reporting that Mr. Commissiong had sexually harassed a civil servant. There’s more to that story, however it has (and will likely) be covered elsewhere. What interests me is the resulting national discussion – on social media, radio, offices (particularly in the civil service) and in the street. To be frank, it has prompted a lot of discussion about sexual harassment.

It occurred to me that there would be some utility in exploring this topic, and so here we are.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Minister Jason Hayward, when he was the President of the BPSU, wrote a valuable report on ‘Sexual Harassment in the Workplace’, which will be the subject of my initial posts on this subject. It is well worth reading, and was even featured in Social Justice Bermuda’s initial reaction to this Commissiong Controversy.

This report opens with a definition taken from the Human Rights Act 1981, Section 9(4). I actually think it is worth quoting the relevant Section in its entirety:

9 – Sexual Harassment Prohibited

  1. No person shall abuse any position or authority which he occupies in relation to any other person employed by him or by any concern which employs both of such persons, for the purpose of harassing that other person sexually.
  2. A person who occupies accommodation has a right to freedom from sexual harassment by the landlord, or by an agent of the landlord, or by an occupant of the same building.
  3. A person who is an employee has a right to freedom in his workplace from sexual harassment by his employer, or by an agent of his employer, or by a fellow employee, and an employer shall take such action as is reasonably necessary to ensure that sexual harassment does not occur in the workplace.
  4. For the purposes of this section, a person harasses another sexually if he engages in sexual comment or sexual conduct towards that other which is vexatious and which he knows, or ought to know, is unwelcome.

Whether section 4, as regards ‘the employer’, refers in the case of Mr. Commissiong when the incident occurred, applies to the Premier, the Speaker or ‘the people’ is an interesting question. However, I digress…

The report itself opens with the following comment on sexual harassment:

“Sexual harassment is a hazard encountered in workplaces across the world that reduces the quality of working life, jeopardises the well-being of women and men, undermines gender equality and imposes costs on businesses and organisations.”

The report also provides a more detailed description of sexual harassment from the ILO:

“…any unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, request for sexual favours, verbal or physical conduct or gesture of a sexual nature; or other behaviour or a sexual nature that makes the recipient feel humiliated, offended and/or intimidated, where such reaction is reasonable in the situation and condition; or made into working requirement or create an intimidating hostile or inappropriate working environment.” – ILO (2011) Guidelines on Sexual Harassment at the Workplace. [Page 5]

The BPSU report then cites the different types of sexual harassment identified in the 2011 ILO Guidelines [page 7], which are worth copying here too:

  1. Physical Harassment – unwelcomed touching in a sexual manner such as kissing, patting, pinching, glancing or staring lustfully.
  2. Verbal Harassment – unwelcomed comments about private life, body parts or a person’s appearance, sexually suggestive jokes and comments.
  3. Gestural Harassment – sexually suggestive body language and/or gestures, repeated winks, gestures with fingers, and licking lips.
  4. Written or Graphic Harassment – display of pornographic materials, sexually explicit pictures, screensavers or posters, or harassment via emails and other modes of electronic communication.
  5. Psychological/Emotional Harassment – persistent proposals and unwelcomed requests, unwanted invitations to go out on dates, insults, taunts or innuendo of a sexual nature.

As noted in the report, the above is not exhaustive…

October 2020 Update to the About Page

I’ve updated the About page:

After a five year hiatus, I’ve decided to dust off my blog and see whether it is something worth doing still.

Over the last five years I have considered different ways to make the blog relevant, noting that the age of blogging has largely given way to social media commenting. I’m going to trial a few approaches here, however my basic idea is this:

  • To be a ‘go to’ site for news about Bermuda’s municipalities and quangos.
  • To be a ‘go to’ site for news about all public tenders and consultations.
  • To be a site of political education for Bermudians in terms of explaining/exploring our constitution, the mysteries of our parliamentary system and Acts as tabled (and sometimes I’ll look to review existing Acts).
  • To be a site looking at union issues in Bermuda and elsewhere.
  • To be a site where I discuss theoretical political and economic issues.
  • To be a site where I discuss issues related to cooperatives.
  • Considering some economic analyses, especially around banking matters and global economics.

What I am not looking at doing is offering opinion about local politics. I know that’s a massive draw historically. And I know I could write about it. I’m just choosing not too. My discussion of local politics and Acts will be as non-opinionated as possible – I’ll consider things like election results, political appointments and seek to explain what this or that Act will do, just without really offering an opinion one way or the other. The closest I’d get to offering opinion might be my engagement with local union issues, though my focus there will be on union matters themselves.

Of course, I don’t live in a vacuum, and what catches my fancy from week to week will no doubt be influenced by local politics. What I decide to focus on as regards political theory, for example, will likely be influenced by what is happening in Bermudian politics.

For example, writing in mid-October 2020 as I am, I am interested in how a dominant political party with little to no parliamentary opposition is able to transcend electoral politics to realise transformative politics, or ward off against losing touch with the grassroots. However, I’ll be approaching that in theory only, only touching on Bermudian politics when and where I feel it will illuminate aspects of my theoretical investigation.

So, we’ll see.

RFP Alert – Closing November 9th – Expression of Interest RE 5 Glebe Road

There is a new RFP out today, from the Ministry of Public Works. It is in the form of an Expression of Interest rather than an RFP proper.

Basically, the property, 5 Glebe Road, the former Bishop Spencer School, has been identified as surplus to Government’s requirements and the Government is seeing if anyone is interested in making use of the property.

Persons are asked to respond to this Expression of Interest by 3pm, Monday, November 9th. The full document is available here.

As an aside, this location was, I believe, slated for use as a homeless shelter as recently as July 2018. I am unsure what happened there (which was referenced just in July 2020), however it seems likely that that original plan has, for whatever reasons, been abandoned.

The new Cabinet and Senators

I wrote yesterday that the new Cabinet and PLP Senators would be announced today – and so it was.

In my earlier post I noted that there would be at least one Ministerial change, as at least one Minister must sit in the Senate, and the entire PLP Senate team was elected to the House of Assembly last week. As it turned out, there were actually three new Ministers appointed:

  • Lawrence Scott as Minister of Transport
  • Tinee Furbert as Minister of Social Development & Seniors
  • Rolfe Commissiong as Minister of Community & Sports

Now, that last appointment is an interesting one, for reasons of which I’ll touch on below.

With regards the Senate, I had speculated that most of the new Senators will be chosen from the 6 unsuccessful candidates, with at least one of the new Senators being an ‘old-hand’ (an experienced former Senator or MP) who would lead the team and likely double as the Minister in the Senate.

As it turns out, four of the six unsuccessful candidates were chosen as Senators, and an old-hand was, indeed, chosen as the Senate Leader and Minister. The four of the six former candidates were:

  • Owen Darrell
  • Curtis Richardson
  • Lindsay Simmons
  • Ariana Hodgson

The old-hand was none other than former MP Rolfe Commissiong.

Without offering too much in the way of opinion, I think it is fair to say that this appointment is being seen by many as rather controversial.

For context, shortly before the election (and during the election campaign period) it was revealed that Mr. Commissiong was involved in a bit of a scandal concerning his alleged sexual harrassment of a female civil servant. Without going into all of the details, he publicly announced he would not be seeking re-election at this time (allowing Mr. Curtis Dickinson to run in his constituency instead). Similarly, the Premier quite forcefully condemned the alleged incident and sexual harassment generally.

As such, the appointment of Mr. Commissiong to the Senate is causing some dismay as it is being seen (based on social media chatter) as hypocritical; a reward (he now has a better position, as a Minister and Senate Leader than he did as an MP); and as part of a quid pro quo.

In other political news, the Independent Senator James Jardine announced his retirement today. As a result, the expectation is that the two other incumbent Independent Senators (Joan Dillas-Wright and Michelle Simmons) will be re-appointed and a new Independent Senator will also be reappointed.

The OBA have yet to announce their new Senate team.

RFP Alert – Closing October 15th, 2020

There is a Government RFP closing at 3pm, Thursday, October 15th.

This is for the supply and delivery of bulk fuels, as well as infrastructure upgrades for select Government sites.

Based on the RFP’s primary document and Annex C ‘Scope of Services’, the key aspects of this RFP are:

  • Installation of new aboveground fuel tanks for the Department of Public Transportation (DPT) – while maintaining their existing tanks until the installation is complete.
  • The same for the Department of Marine & Ports (DMP).
  • A computerised fuel management system for DPT, DMP, Ministry of Public Works, and the Bermuda Police, as well as automatic tank gauges for inventory management and fuel tracking.

A site visit was arranged for interested bidders on August 12th, and the original deadline was for September 21st. It is not clear if the deadline was extended to October 15th due to lack of bidders or some other reason.

For more information, check out the additional documents here.

One week later – what to expect.

This Thursday will mark a week since the General Election which saw the PLP win 30 out of 36 seats; the OBA winning the remaining 6 and thus forming the Official Opposition.

As things currently stand, Mr. Craig Cannonier remains the Leader of the OBA and so will be sworn in as the Opposition Leader at some point (although it is no secret that there are many commentators on social media and the news sites calling for his resignation).

The Premier noted last week that he would be appointing his new Cabinet on Thursday, October 8th. At a minimum this will require at least one of his existing Cabinet Ministers to step down. This is because our Constitution requires that at least one of our Ministers be a Senator, and the election last week saw the entire PLP Senate team elected to the House of Assembly. As such, at least one new Minister will have to be announced tomorrow, along with at least one new Senator.

It is not clear if the entire new PLP Senate team will be announced tomorrow along with the Cabinet – however it is certainly likely.

Under the Constitution, the Government appoints 5 Senators, the Opposition 3, and the Governor appoints 3 Independent Senators. In general, we can expect the incumbent Independent Senators to be reappointed, so the speculation of course is who the PLP and the OBA will appoint.

NB – The relevant section of the Constitution here is Section 58(2):

“The other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor in accordance with the advice of the Premier and, of those Ministers, not less than one nor more than two shall be appointed from among the Senators and the remainder shall be appointed from among the members of the House of Assembly.”

While it is not always the case, often one can look at the unsuccessful candidates from the election as an obvious first choice for consideration.

For the PLP, needing to fill 5 Senate seats and having only 6 unsuccessful candidates, speculation will of course fall on these six:

  • Owen Darrel
  • Dr. Ernest Peets
  • Lindsay Simmons
  • Davida Morris
  • Curtis Richardson
  • Ariana Hodgson

With the PLP having made much ado about their record number of female candidates in this election, it is quite possible that the 3 women above are likely under consideration. Of course, there are also other likely picks, with the PLP Executive being potential picks too. And then there are wildcards – people not on anyone’s obvious radar.

For the OBA, they will be forming their shadow Cabinet, and likely doubling up portfolios due to their limited numbers in the House. For the Senate, they have to appoint 3 Senators. They certainly have a large number (30) of candidates to choose from, as well as from their Executive and wildcards to consider.

My guess is they will draw from their pool of failed candidates, and who the Leader chooses will give us an indication of what direction they will take. Will they consist of old-hands from the House for the sake of steadying the boat, or from their crop of new blood candidates as part of a reform initiative? My guess is probably a mix – at least one old-hand to lead the team, and two newbies.

Another consideration for the OBA will be the 5 seats that they only slightly lost, the ones that the PLP flipped. These are the obvious targets for the OBA to try and recover in the next election, so they may want to consider candidates that ran in them, namely:

  • Leah Scott
  • Marcus Jones
  • Vic Ball
  • Robin Tucker
  • Jon Brunson

Leah Scott, as the OBA’s Deputy Leader is the obvious standout choice for an old-hand. Marcus Jones and Vic Ball as Senators in the previous Senate team are possibilities, however my feeling is that Robin Tucker and Jon Brunson stand a better chance for consideration. To be frank, the former Senators have had their time and lost seats they should have won, and so may be considered liabilities now.

Ultimately, one can only speculate. Tomorrow we’ll know at least the new PLP Cabinet team and at least one Senator, if not their entire Senate team. We will probably not know the OBA’s Senate team until closer to the new Senate is convened.

All the same, keep an eye out for news announcements tomorrow. My guess is around lunchtime.

Passing the ball?

There is an interesting article on Bernews today, by former Senator Vic Ball. I’ll let others pass their own judgement on aspects of this ‘sincere congratulations’.

There are two interesting bits to the article that caught my eye though:

  1. His numbers about the vote turnout.
  2. His mention of the recent trend of Caribbean parliamentary landslides.

The latter subject is something I have plans to write about in more detail, namely, (i) why is this phenomenon occurring, and (ii) what it means both for the governing party and the opposition (and, by extension, civil society) in those circumstances.

For now though, let us look at what Mr. Ball is saying. And for that, it is worth quoting him directly:

“…there was a notable 61% increase in the number of people who chose not to vote as compared with 2017. That number stands at a whopping 44% and represents 20,548 voters of a total electorate of 46,311, excluding the three uncontested seats. Clearly all is not well in our democracy.”

This isn’t necessarily wrong – although I don’t think he’s accounted for the three constituencies that were not able to participate in this election due to the OBA and FDM failing to field 36 candidates.

However, it appears to rather overlook some key trends that the election data points out (and that I’ve discussed elsewhere).

Specifically, in reading Mr. Ball’s piece, you would think that this voter decline, this “61% increase in the number of people who chose not to vote” is reflective of an across the board voter decline. The numbers do not bear this out.

While the numbers do indicate that the PLP saw a vote decline of 11% compared to their 2017 vote (accounting for the 3 uncontested seats), the key statistic is that the OBA vote declined by 37.5%!

Yes, there was a voter decline, however this was primarily driven by OBA voters not voting.

There probably would have been a decline in voter turnout as is, however this would have theoretically impacted both the PLP and OBA vote equally. If we assume that the PLP vote decline of 11% is indicative of a normally expected voter decline, the OBA’s 37.5% decline is far beyond that.

Quite frankly, the key story of the 2020 election was not the FDM; it was simply and solely the collapse of the OBA vote. A significant chunk of the OBA voter base decided that they couldn’t vote for the PLP and they couldn’t vote for the OBA as is either. That is the electoral problem that the OBA faces between now and the next election.

Nowhere in the article does the author indicate a recognition of this key statistic of the 2020 election or what it means for the Opposition.

It is said that in order to focus on a solution it is important to understand the problem. Otherwise you’re just kicking the ball into the long grass.